Phosphenes are one of Nottingham’s great new musical hopes. Their eclectic mix of inspirations combined with the energy of a new look line up makes them an exciting prospect. Fomerly named Youth Hotel, they now prepare for a year of debut releases and early live outings.
We catch up with the Tommo and Will in Life In Sound’s third outing. It is one of the most interesting yet, I am fascinated by their varying musical tastes and devotion to the Nottingham music scene.
What is your name?
What do you do?
Tommo: Guitar and vocals
Will: (On Phosphenes’ sound) Indie jazz with a hint of indie rock and some slightly heavier stuff
Where are you from?
Will: Nottingham born n’ bred!
Describe yourself in four words?
Tommo: Just wanting happiness please!
To begin with, which band/artist has redefined your understanding of music and why?
Tommo: Elliot Smith, he makes me search for sounds that give people goosebumps and how music can be tailored to very specific thoughts and feelings. He also shows me how personality transforms a song.
Will: Loads of people for me! I think my main grounding musical influence and understanding comes from bands like Radiohead and the Beatles, as with many people, aswell as Jeff Buckley, Elliot Smith. Then there’s more modern artists like Tamino and Turnover. Maybe even a little bit of Mac Demarco too!
Which album are you addicted to right now?
Tommo: Everything I listen to is always being rotated, but the last album I brought was Blood Loss by Puma Blue. It’s a right journey!
Will: Kagoule, urth. I have been listening to it loads, it’s just incredible.
You can steal one other artists song and make it your own… Which would it be?
Tommo: ‘I’m glad’ by Captain Beefheart
Will: ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ by the Beatles. It’s a perfectly articulated song. The way it transforms is very impressive.
We’re curious, how did you come to choose the name Phosphenes?
Tommo: I saw it on a Buzz-feed video a few years ago, so I just proposed it in our group chat when deciding a name.
Will: It was a completely random suggestion from Tommo our lead singer. Phosphenes are those things you see in your eyes when you look into the sun for too long. We thought it sounded neat and flowed really nicely!
Nottingham is a hotbed of music, what makes it so special?
Tommo: I don’t think there’s much care about getting money from the craft in Nottingham, almost everyone wants to have a laugh and play their songs. It’s a solid community!
Will: Theres just so much variety and so many bands. I guess that makes it harder to break through but I believe if you’ve got what people want to hear and you push it out right you’ll do well. Musicians are forced into being like this in Notts because theres so much competition. I think it breeds some great music. Theres also a great indie culture which contributes massively to the scene and the music.
Are there any other bands in the city who you think are particularly good?
Tommo: Oh yeah, Super Furniture are banging. Do Nothing will be massive very soon too, they’re so good.
Will: Kagoule and Marvin’s Revenge. Vega Bay are pretty great too. There’s loads of amazing bands in Notts.
We’re looking forward to your first release… Describe Phosphenes in 3 words:
Tommo: Emotional, jazzy, different
Will: Cheers! I’d at least like to think, relatable lyrically, powerful and reverby
You can play three venues across the country, which would they be?
1) Anywhere in Leeds, I’ve heard it has a great music scene
2) 100 Club, London
3) De Montfort hall, Leicester (The sound was A1 last time I went!)
1) Rock City, Nottingham, main-stage
2) King Tuts, Glasgow
3) Reading & Leeds
What new bands are you listening to this month?
Tommo: I’ve not really been listening to anything new, but there are big things coming from Easy Life and people such as Michael Seyer – the bedroom indie movement is getting a lot bigger
Will: Still Woozy, HYUKOH, and Soft Girls and Boys Club. Their new single is an absolute banger!
At the end of the night, which song gets played last?
Tommo: I have a lot of late nights at uni, Elliot Smith is always played last to remind to stay passionate about music.
Will: At our gigs, it will be what is to become our debut single. It hasn’t got a name yet though haha.
Your favourite lyric ever?
Tommo: It’s not really a lyric but more of a sample from Blu’s album Her Favourite Colo(u)r, in a recorded fight from a movie where there are themes of infidelity. The cheating woman describes her new lover to her old lover as: ‘he tastes like you but sweeter.’
Will: Nothing specific. But lyrically I think that Tamino is a genius.
Finally, what can we expect from the debut Phosphenes single release and early live shows?
Tommo: A lot of rawness and emotion, the songs have come straight from the worst times in my life, it’s the only way I can perform them. However, I just try and enjoy myself on stage and have a laugh rather than focus on the lyrics.
Will: Hopefully you will be pleasantly surprised. We’re working on our live shows a-lot at the moment and we’re wanting high energy, tight shows that get a crowd going!
Follow Phosphenes on Facebook ahead of their impending debut single release:
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Image via Phosphenes